|We often get
asked the question “What does the average funeral cost?” Of course,
quoting an average price can be difficult as funeral prices do vary significantly,
depending upon both an area and a funeral provider.
Like many other commodities
in our society, the average cost of a funeral has increased steadily over
the last couple of decades. A survey that the National Funeral Directors
Association conducted in 2012 posited the average cost of a funeral in
the U.S. at $7,755 although this price does not include any cemetery fees.
Adding cemetery costs to this means that a total average funeral is likely
to cost nearer to $10,000.
The three main elements to the
average cost of a funeral are:
Funeral directors fees
What is the average funeral
All funeral homes have a general
price list (GPL) as stipulated by the Federal Trade Commission’s ‘funeral
rule’. The GPL must provide an itemization of all services and merchandise
that a funeral home offers. The element that represents the funeral
directors fees normally covers the basic services or professional services.
This fee usually incorporates such services as liaising with the family,
securing relevant permits, filing and obtaining the death certificate and
any other documentation or social security paperwork, coordinating any
service plans and any funeral counseling.
The charge for a funeral
directors fee can vary significantly. It does basically include an
element that covers the ‘overhead’ of conducting a funeral business, and
recognizes the professional services the funeral director offers you.
A basic services fee can be
as little as $895 or can amount to a fee nearer $3,000.
Services such as embalming,
cosmetology, use of funeral vehicles, use of facilities for a viewing or
service, are all in addition to the basic service, or funeral directors
fees. Before you sign any funeral contract, do be sure that you have
only agreed to the services you require. Even a brief viewing or
an online obituary may all add to your overall funeral costs.
If you opt to purchase a
funeral package, the funeral directors fee will be included in the funeral
What are average casket costs?
A casket has traditionally been
one of the most expensive items of funeral merchandise that make up the
total cost of a funeral. It has been traditional in the United States
to purchase a steel casket and by nature of the construction of such an
ornate item, they prove to be an expensive cost.
Up until some years ago most
people purchased a casket from the funeral home. The casket market
was not competitive and funeral homes marked up the caskets to make a profit.
It was not unknown for caskets to be marked up as much as 500% on the wholesale
price, and difficult to purchase a casket for much less than $3,000.
Today the casket market is
much more competitive. There are online and high street casket retailers,
even Walmart and CostCo sell caskets, and consequently a casket can now
be purchased for as little as $995.00. Many funeral homes have been
forced to price-match caskets in order to continue to sell caskets.
There is no law that states
you must use a casket for burial, and more families are opting to select
more simple wooden, or natural construction, caskets. Some families
have even been known to make their own coffin.
It is important to remember
that how ornate and grand the casket is, is not a reflection of how much
you loved the deceased.
A casket can therefore cost
anything from around $500 for a simple pine casket to around $30,000 for
the most ornate bronze casket.
What are the average cemetery
The cost for a burial plot,
a grave liner or burial vault and the fees for opening and closing a burial
plot make up the cemetery costs element of your funeral expenses.
There are no state laws stipulating
that a grave liner is required, but many cemetery regulations require a
grave liner. This is generally to maintain the integrity of the grounds
and prevent subsidence.
The cost of a burial plot
differs depending upon the type of cemetery (church, community or municipal)
and whether a single, double or family plot is purchased. You can
expect to pay anything upwards of $300.00 but it is not uncommon for cemetery
costs to amount to nearer $2,500 or much higher in some larger cities.
It is possible to purchase
an unused cemetery plot in some states/cemeteries in a private transaction.
Families that may have held cemetery deeds that they no longer require
will choose to sell the plot. You can read more about this by visiting
the ‘buying and selling a cemetery plot’ article in the related articles
If your funeral home sells
burial vaults they must provide you with an outer burial container price
list before you select a burial vault.
Choosing a funeral package
The FTC funeral rule was established
in order to make it easier for consumers to clearly select ONLY the services
and products they required from a funeral home. Funeral homes had
been guilty of not disclosing that certain services were not actually required
and were merely ‘bundled’ into a funeral price to hike the cost up.
Although all services are
itemized on a GPL, it can sometimes be confusing, so often funeral homes
will offer funeral packages. A range of different funeral packages
are on offer, and funeral homes may include different services and products
in a funeral package. Therefore, be sure to clearly check EXACTLY
what is included in a funeral package before selecting it as an option.
It does not help that different funeral businesses name their packages
differently. Just ensure that you are comparing like-for-like to
ensure that you ARE getting value for money.
Many of the funeral businesses
that we work with across the United States offer a basic ‘traditional funeral
package’ today for anywhere between $2,500 to $4,500, depending upon location,
and not including cemetery costs. This means that the average price
of a funeral, as quoted by the NFDA survey, reflects the differentiation
between including the high-end full service funeral costs and the more
basic funeral services. If you shop around and seek out a funeral
provider offering affordable packages, you should be able to conduct a
funeral for much less than $7,755.
If you are particularly concerned
about keeping funeral costs to a minimum, check out your nearest DFS Memorials
provider. All members of the DFS Memorials network are family-owned
funeral homes and crematories that offer an ‘affordable’ funeral alternative.
||Expert Author: Sara
Sara is the Editor in Chief
for US Funerals Online and has been researching and writing about the death
care industry in the US for the last 5 years.
Memorials – Network of low cost funeral & cremation providers